Pressure tactics ‘rampant’ in Singapore beauty industry

There is an ugly side to the Singapore beauty industry – it is among the top five industries generating complaints handled by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case).

“Pressure sales tactics and unsatisfactory services are rampant” across the sector, Case says, with beauty parlour staff frequently resorting to aggression or deception to influence consumers to buy their products or services. It has received frequent complaints about beauticians withholding personal belongings while pushing more products or services, or using harsh and critical words to make consumers feel self-conscious about their looks or body.

Some beauticians have even made hours-long sales pitches in an enclosed room, and many of these sessions occur when the consumer is undergoing a beauty treatment or is in a vulnerable position.

Almost 90 per cent of complaints were lodged by women, and between January 2011 and last month, Case handled 485 complaints against sales tactics in the beauty industry. Because of these high numbers, Case has organised a half-day educational seminar for consumers this month.

Customers injured

About 20 per cent of all cases lodged with Case involve complaints about unsatisfactory services such as unprofessional, untrained or incompetent beauticians. Sometimes beauticians have injured customers during a beauty treatment, failing to administer the treatments competently or acting unprofessionally.

Case receives more than 1000 inquires and complaints involving the beauty industry every year. It takes up about 10 to 15 per cent of these complaints, following up with the business to negotiate a settlement.

To deal with the high number of beauty complaints, Case has adopted a two-pronged approach: working with businesses to encourage fair trading practices, and educating consumers about their rights and responsibilities.

Under the provisions of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA), Case can enter into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) against a business engaging in unfair practices. To date, it has signed a VCA/Letter of Undertaking with four businesses in the beauty industry to stop unfair practices. Meanwhile, its CaseTrust accreditation scheme for spa and wellness businesses has helped ensure fair trading. All accredited businesses (641 so far) pledge to provide a five-day cooling-off period and a “no selling” policy in the treatment room.

The Case Beauty Fair at the NTUC Centre on July 30 will include presentations by the Spa & Wellness Association of Singapore (SWAS), the National Skin Centre and Case. Case’s partners will have exhibition booths.

Registration has opened, and admission is free, including lunch and a goodie bag.


You have 7 articles remaining. Unlock 15 free articles a month, it’s free.